Trying to Reclaim My MarriagebySlirpuff©
I wasn't trying to solve world hunger or settle the conflict in the Middle East. I was attempting to do something a lot more important, to me anyway. I was trying to figure out why or more so how the love had gone out of our marriage. I thought it would be a simple task to figure out the how or why and just reverse it and make it all better again. Well, that's the phrase my little daughter Kim uses when my wife puts on a bandage when she gets a cut or scrape. But, making it all better again between my wife Sue and I was going to take more than a bandage with little red balloons on it. However, I was going to give it my best shot. I didn't want to join the statistical group of one in two married couples divorcing but it looks like we're heading that way. Well, not if I can help it.
To look at us we were the typical Ozzie and Harriet couple. Married almost eleven years with two kids. Our family consisted of Kim, six, Danny, eight, and a two year old golden retriever named Rusty. We live in a McMansion, as I call our oversized big box house that Sue just had to have, and much to my dismay we have the big McMortgage to go along with it.
Sue works for Spencer and Thomas; a large accounting firm based out of Atlanta and was promoted to junior partner in January of last year. She's smart as hell and a workaholic when I don't watch her too closely. Me? I do custom paint jobs on motorcycles and cars. My work isn't seasonal like Sue's but it's usually feast or famine. A lot of weekends I put my tent up at either a car or bike show and grab jobs that way. Most of the time it seems word of mouth brings in much of my new business. When one of my paint jobs takes a trophy in a show, everyone always wants to know who did it. The winner directs them my way or gives them one of my cards. So, I go through a million custom painted business cards a year and although they're not cheap, they're well worth the cost.
Shortly after Danny was born we came to the realization that Sue was going to be the main breadwinner in our family. She had a higher earning potential and it just made good economic sense for me to be home more often with the kids while she furthered her career. Did it hurt my pride or did I feel less a man? Hell no. At that point, I only wished Sue could make even more money.
When our second, Kim, was born, I took over a bunch more duties especially when tax time rolled around. I became the chief cook and bottle washer not to mention maid and school mom. When the kids started grade school I always took the time to drive them and soon found I was picking up a couple of other kids in the neighborhood to boot. I didn't mind one bit. I just changed the hours of my business to open a half hour later and it was a done deal. The way I looked at it, marriage is a partnership and with both parties doing their share it ran like a well-oiled clock, or was supposed to anyway.
Don't get me wrong, Sue worked hard especially after being promoted. She normally works from seven thirty in the morning and hardly ever gets home before six thirty in the evening. A lot of times I would feed the kids and have them ready for bed when she'd drag her butt in the door after seven or even eight o'clock at night. With a glass of wine and a kiss chaser, I'd warn up her dinner and sit with her while she ate. Afterwards I'd put the kids to bed while she wound down. I didn't look at myself as a martyr; this is what two people who loved each other do in a marriage.
Did we have sex all the time? Not a chance. Hell, show me a guy who says he's getting enough and I'll show you a liar. If a guy gets it two to three times a week he wishes he could do it four. A guy who's getting it five times a week will still wonder what it would like to do it once a day. And a guy who's getting it seven times a week? Well we both know that's a fantasy and doesn't happen in the real world, especially to a couple that have little ones. I just say be thankful for what you're getting and take advantage of it when the opportunity arises. So our humble life went on.
Things between us got strained and out of hand, starting with the night of Sue's promotion dinner. It's been a year since that night and I'm still angry about her attitude towards me from that night forward. I feel I'm kind of being taken for granted. It's like she believes she is superior and that being married to a lowly blue-collar man is now almost beneath her. If it wasn't for my two kids I would probably say the hell with it, but I'm not quite there yet. Driving back from a show in Atlanta I decide I'm going to give it one last shot because I know there's still something there that can be salvaged, that is if we both work at it.
I start to think back to when we first said our I do's. I was twenty-two and she was twenty-three and a half; I always told her she robbed the cradle when she married me. She was out of college and working for an accounting firm in town. Me, I was running my own business painting cars and motorcycles. I was working out of my parent's detached garage, or what use to be their garage. I knew that I wasn't college material from the get go so I took all the auto paint courses the technical college offered. I learned not only the standard painting techniques but also the art of airbrushing. I was living hand to mouth, but was pretty happy with my life back then. I enjoyed going to car and bike shows because there were always great looking machines along with women who could stop traffic. That's where I met Sue.
She was going with some guy named Kenny who was showing his car at one of the regional events. To him, on that particular day, it was all about the car. Sue was there to give him support, because isn't that what girlfriends do? However, with the show getting ready to start and him polishing and buffing like crazy, Sue was nothing more than an after thought or an imposition. I hadn't done her boyfriend's paint job but had painted two others that I thought stood a good chance to take it all. I was just standing back, away from all the madness watching, when she walked up along side of me.
"Boys and their toys," she said louder than just a normal speaking voice sucking on some type of soda.
"Kids, look at them. They're spending thousands of dollars on what? A pretty paint job that'll never see the light of day outside one of these swap meets."
I corrected her. "Car shows, they're called car shows."
"Whatever. It's just that it's not practical, that's all."
"If you're not interested in the cars, what are you doing here?"
"You see that greenish colored Chevy over there? That's my boyfriend's. We trailered it here behind his custom truck. Boys and their toys, I'll never understand it."
"And let me guess, he doesn't treat you half as good as he treats his car, right?"
"If he paid me one tenth of the amount of time he spends polishing that car of his, I'd be the happiest woman on earth. So, I'm here today to support my man; well that's what he told me I'm doing here anyway. What time does this thing end?" she said looking at her watch.
"Well, the judging starts in about an hour and it'll probably take at least two and a half hours based on the number of cars entered. Then there's the tallying of the votes. Hell, you should be out of here in about four hours give or take a half an hour."
"You're shitting me right?"
"Sorry." I answered. She pulled out her phone, dialed someone and started yelling into it.
"He told me a couple hours. No way in hell I'm going to wait around here all day even if he's going to take first place."
"Just to let you know, he's not going to take first place either."
"How do you know that? Are you one of the judges or something?"
"Nope, but I painted two cars in the competition that look a hell of a lot better than his," I smiled at her tooting my own horn. She didn't appear impressed.
"And pray tell, how much did you charge to paint those cars?"
"Four to five thousand," I replied.
"Each?" she now sounded a little more impressed.
"Yes, each. Why are you so surprised? I even gave them ten percent off if they'd plug my shop and hand out my cards if they win."
"Like I said, I'll never understand boys and their toys." She slurped down the last of her drink and put her big ass sunglasses on the top of her head, showing me her big brown eyes. Looking bored and disgusted, she then took off her sunglasses, tied up her shoulder length light brown hair into a ponytail and stuck her sunglasses back into her hair.
"By the way, I'm Steve Moore," I said holding out my hand.
"Sue Williams," she replied giving my hand a weak handshake. "Well, I've got to find my doofus boyfriend and tell him that I'm going to the mall while he does his male bonding thing. I'll be back to see how he does, I guess I owe him that much. Maybe I'll see you around."
"Here, take one of my cards." I dug one out of my top pocket and handed it to her. "When he loses to me you can give him the card and tell him I predicted it. Maybe he'll want me to repaint his car for him." Sue looked at the card, front and back, before slipping it into the back pocket of her jeans.
"Well, I guess I'll see you at the trophy thing." Sighing quietly she walked off.
Not a bad looking booty but her breasts were way too small for my taste. I kind of snickered to myself, watching her walk away thinking about how she looked better walking away than coming towards me. Cute. Nice face and a killer ass. If she were a guy, they'd say she looked like a tall drink of water because she must have been all of a hundred and ten pounds and at least five foot eight inches tall, which was mostly leg. She was braless and I could just make out her tits through her designer tee shirt. She had nipples attached to bumps on her chest that reminded me of a high school girl who hadn't started to develop yet. Oh well, she was her boyfriend's problem; I had bigger things on my mind right now.
It was a long hot afternoon. There weren't too many clouds in the sky and by late afternoon my shirt was sticking to me. It was wet from sweat. I could feel the sweat beads trickling down the sides of my face and down the center of my back. I took off my red ball cap, wiped my brow with the sleeve of my tee shirt and chuckled when I thought about what would happen if a summer rain shower came through. Sue was right; most of these cars never saw the light of day. They were either parked in some plush trailer or garage, only to see the sunlight at a function like this one.
There's got to be over a million dollars worth of vehicles here I thought looking over the eight rows of show cars. One day I'd like to have a custom vehicle, something that would turn heads when I road by. Would I drive it every day? Damn straight. What's the point of having something like that if no one ever got to see it? I didn't want a China doll in a glass case, more so something that would draw attention, a chick magnet is what I want. Right now I didn't have a steady girlfriend and really wasn't even looking for one. But glancing around at some of the women here, I wouldn't want them either, way too high maintenance. The guys brought them here in their short hot pants and tiny tube tops so they could stand next to their car and draw a crowd.
Looking over at her boyfriend's 1968 Chevy I noticed that Sue hadn't come back yet. With her boyfriend looking at his watch every so often, he didn't look any too happy either. Oh well, Sue would be the least of his worries when he didn't come in first; well, at least I hoped he didn't.
With the judging done and the votes tabulated the presentations began. There were four classes and the winners of those faced off for the overall best in show. One of my cars was in the top four along with Sue's boyfriend's and two others that looked smoking hot to say the least.
Why they intentionally dragged these awards ceremonies out I don't know because by now everyone was hot, sweaty and wanted it over and done with. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Sue return and stand next to her boyfriend.
"Get on with it," someone yelled from the back of the crowd and everyone cheered their approval. A great looking 1964 Ford truck with a candy apple red metallic paint job took fourth. I knew the guy who'd done the paint job and although he was all smiles I know exactly how he felt inside. A jet-black and fire engine red 2008 Corvette took third. I thought for sure it would be up for either first or second. That left Sue's boyfriend's green Chevy and my buddy's canary yellow and crimson gold Chrysler 300.
As the tension mounted, I could see the excitement in both owners' faces. When my buddy's car won, I watched as he jumped around like a friggin' nut while a scowl came across the face of Kenny. The trophies for both first and second place were bigger than they needed to be, but the check for first place was what my buddy prized the most. He located me, gave me a big hug and went up to the stage to be honored as everyone clapped and gathered around his car.
I was pumped and knew as a result I'd get at least one or two jobs out of this show. I stood next to my buddy's car while a few guys started to talk to me about cars they might be interested in getting painted. Sue's boyfriend didn't take losing well as he kicked at the ground swearing to himself. Although I couldn't hear what he was saying, it wasn't good by the look on his face.
I saw Sue mouth the words, "it's just a damn car show," just before he went off on her. Then I saw Sue hand him my card and watched as he ripped it up into a million pieces and threw it back at her. With arms flailing she gave it right back to him. They now both started to make a scene. I thought about going to her rescue but figured it wasn't any of my concern.
I was talking to a guy about a 2006 Honda he was looking to get painted, when I felt a hand on my shoulder; it was Sue.
"You mind if I stand here with you? My boyfriend is being a total asshole and I don't want to be anywhere near him right now."
"No problem; I guess he's a little mad about losing."
"When I told him what you told me and handed him your card he said the whole thing was fixed. I guess I shouldn't have told him it wasn't the end of the world and that they would be other shows. That's when he ripped up your card and threw it at me."
"All right I'll be your lord and protector," I told her going back to talking to the kid about his Honda and giving him a ballpark price. I never noticed that she had slipped her arm around me or heard when her boyfriend stormed over to where we were standing. The guy I was talking to sure as hell saw and heard, as his eyes got pretty wide and he took two steps backwards.
"Sue, come on, we're getting the fuck out of here," Kenny roared at her.
"You leave, I'll find my own way home. I don't think I want to be around someone who can't control his temper, or talks to me the way you do."
I think he wanted to punch her and probably would have if I hadn't been there. I watched him ball up his fists and get even angrier. That's when I moved Sue behind me. I thought every blood vessel and vein in his face were going to burst through his skin as they went from cherry red to dark purple. I just stared at him waiting for what I thought was going to happen next. I was a good four inches shorter and probably forty pounds lighter than Kenny. I was kind of expecting to get my ass kicked when he surprised me.
"Keep the bitch, she's not worth the trouble," he shouted at me storming back over to where his car was. I let out a sigh of relief; my body relaxed and the sweat stopped flowing out of every pore of my body.
"Boys and their toys," is what she murmured again watching as he drove off. "Well, now you've got to give me a lift home, are you about done here?" she asked standing there with her arms crossed in front of her glaring at me through those big sunglasses.
I started to understand how Kenny felt about now. I was just thankful to have avoided getting my ass kicked over this broad.
"Will you give me a minute, I'm trying to pick up some business?" I told her starting to get a little annoyed at her myself.
"Ok, I'll wait over there." She pointed to a stand of bleachers beside the stage. "When you're ready to leave just let me know," turning her back she walked away. I was done in just over half an hour. I must have given out a hundred cards and was feeling pretty good about myself when I remembered Sue.
"You about ready to go?" I said with just the hint of a smile.
"I was ready to leave at ten o'clock this morning," she shot back at me.
We walked over to the parking lot and got into my 2004 Chevy S10 pickup. It had a hundred thousand miles on it, needed a paint job but most of all a good wash.
"You paint cars like that, pointing at one show car leaving, and drive something like this?"
"It's my work truck and if it's beneath you to ride in it, you can always walk home."
"I didn't say I was above it, it's just that I thought you'd be driving, you know, something hot to show off your work."
"I can't afford one of my own paint jobs right now nor do I want to. I stick most of my money back into my business this way I owe nothing to anyone."
"That's really smart. I guess when business is slow you can weather the storm."
"Exactly, and since I still live at home, my expenses are minimal. I do however have my eye on a little place and in about two to three years I'll be able to afford it. Until then, I'm building up my business, getting connected with the right people and working at getting better with each paint job I do."
I imagine that might have surprised her a bit.
"Thought I was a country bumpkin without a brain in my head, didn't you?" She didn't say a thing at first.
"All right, so I thought you were just some good old country boy; sorry about that. You've really got your life all planned out. What does your girlfriend have to say about it?"
"Not much, because I don't have one right now. Are you applying for the position? If you are, I'm taking applications." I gave Sue my best Paul Newman smile. I had his big baby blue eyes but none of the rest. I guess it didn't make much difference to Sue, because one month later we were officially girlfriend and boyfriend. Image that. We were one of the oddest couples around. The prissy college accountant and the blue-collar painter, but it worked for us for some reason. Maybe it was because I treated her like a real person and took the time to satisfy her needs. Whatever it was, our relationship flourished and we started saying the 'L' word to each other and talking about what would happen if we got married.
I suppose this is probably not the greatest love story you have ever heard, but that's how we met and became a couple. Even though Sue had never seen the inside of a body shop she knew the principals of running a successful business. I'd like to say I owe all my success to my hard work or even a bit of luck, but I'd be lying. Sue pushed me to expand my business and to take chances I normally never would have. Some flopped but most didn't. Hell, she didn't even mind when we went out on dates in my old truck. She did require that my hands be always clean, which included getting rid of the paint under my fingernails when we went out, especially with her friends.
"Sue, I'm a blue collar worker. I work with my hands all day long and they're going to get grimy and dirty; I don't work in a damn office like you." She gave me a cold stare.
"Steve, you may be a blue collar worker like you say, but you don't have to look like one. You're also a successful business owner and sometimes you've got to wear that hat. I'm not asking you to put on airs, I'm just reminding you that people will look at you a lot differently when you wear a coat and tie verses a pair of tattered jeans."